State officials warn reports of online harassment are up with more students in virtual classes

Written by on October 22, 2020

State officials warn reports of online harassment are up with more students in virtual classes

By Gabi Falk, WLVR Lehigh University Intern

October 22, 2020

State officials say they are concerned about student cyber safety. As WLVR’s Gabi Falk reports, with so many Pennsylvania students attending classes virtually now, reports of online harassment and threats of violence are rising.   

The State Attorney General’s Office runs an app called Safe2Say. It’s a youth protection program where students can anonymously report threats of violence and bullying. 

Attorney General Josh Shapiro says tips to the hotline have doubled. 

“With more students behind screens, there is more opportunity for cyber bullying, sadly,” said Shapiro.

Teresa Miller is the secretary for the state Department of Human Services. She says virtual classrooms have changed students’ interactions. 

“When a child is seated in front of an Internet connected device, he or she has the potential to interact privately with almost any of the 7 billion people on the planet.”

Miller says parents need to talk to their children about safe online behavior, and she advises limiting screen time for kids and setting clear rules like not chatting with strangers. 

The state Department of Education has published resources for families about internet safety on its website. 

This story is part of a collaboration between WLVR News and Lehigh University’s Department of Journalism & Communication. View all student stories.

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